Who do you say that I am?

Good morning everyone!  I want to make a shout out to one of my most fabulous sisters in law, Madeleine! Happy happy birthday to a sister that I am so lucky to have!

Today’s scripture:

Mark 8:27-3(NRSV)

27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”[a] 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Sorry I am a little late this morning.  Some friends and I took off to Bend yesterday morning and stayed the night.  Jenny is out skiing with a friend and I am writing to you all from a cozy spot.  We will be back this evening and ready for tomorrow morning. 🙂  Thanks for your patience.

We are staying with a few friends who are not in the church realm at all.  They are new friends to me through Jenny.  When I meet up with new people that I hope will like me (who doesn’t like to be liked?) I almost dread the question that I know is going to come and will inevitably kill the conversation at hand…

“And what do you do, Courtney?”

There are a few things that race through my mind.  If I just bluntly put out what I do it could either a) totally put off these people and they will apologize if they have sworn at all around me (which usually means I swear in the next sentence to put people at ease) or b) it might turn into a great big therapy session or c) I could hear all about how awful church is or the worst…d) non of the above and the conversation ends abruptly.  The best thing that can happen is a few questions about how that happens or which denomination and the conversation continues. OR what could happen is what happened last night….”Ok, you are a pastor…so what do you DO…like, what does a day look like?”

This is the hardest question of all to answer.  My day varies on what happens within it.  Jenny turned to me and said, “just tell them about yesterday.”  I talked about how I worked with the homeless community in the morning after blogging and sermon research. Then I was called to visit someone in a facility. I was called away from there to be with someone in the hospital.  From there I had a very important meeting with a six year old and the day kept going into more and more meetings that I can’t really go into here.  But it was booked.  One day.  I talked about how I do everything from paperwork to pastoral care to theological conversations to worship, etc.

That effectively cleared the room with silence.  Later, more questions would come but folks who haven’t been in the church world have an view of church and Jesus that I forget exists.  There is a view of the church that I didn’t grow up with.  It includes Westboro Baptist which is nothing like I grew up with in church. This view includes judginess which does exist in some communities and exclusivity and hate.  I understand the view but I forget that I am constantly fighting that image of the church.

This view transfers to Jesus in the world as well.  The name of Jesus carries other connotations that makes people skittish.  And i understand it and it makes me so sad that I am lumped into that view when I say what I do in the world…

It makes me sad because I spend my life trying not to be representing hate but reclaiming what it means to follow a Jesus that represents love, inclusivity, and grace….who do you say that I am?

With a modern lens, this scripture takes on a whole new meaning.  When I say that I am a pastor in the world, I stand behind this question.  A big part of my call is to reclaim what Jesus represents…the he is something different than we have made him out to be. When he asks this question and we respond that he is Messiah, this brings so much more than what the church looks like from the outside.  But in order to exclaim what community really is…we have to bring it outside and make a difference.  We have to change the understanding by being those people.

A few weeks ago after a moving worship service full of meaning and action all intertwined Jenny turned to me and said, “If I knew that this was church, I would have been here a long time ago.  This is what church should be.”

Who do you say that I am? Who will you proclaim that Jesus is?

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